Russia’s rogue F1 rookie Nikita Mazepin’s first F1 race lasted all of three corners.
After already breaking an unwritten law of Formula One in qualifying on Saturday – and immediately spinning out for his troubles – he launched himself into the barriers after too eagerly jumping on the throttle at corner three.
It was the same corner where previous Haas driver Romain Grosjean had flew into the barriers at 260km/h late in the 2020 season, causing an epic fireball and forcing the Frenchman to leap from his car in a miraculous escape.
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Luckily for Mazepin – 22-year-old son of Russian billionaire Dmitry Mazepin, who sponsors the team – his shunt was not nearly so horrific. But it was nevertheless enough to cause a safety car and prematurely end his debut in the sport.
The Haas team struggled throughout 2020, and things appear to be headed the same way this season. Fellow rookie driver Mick Schumacher, son of legendary driver Michael Schumacher, also had an early scare in the race, spinning on turn four as he – like Mazepin – jumped on the throttle too early.
Mazepin’s arrival into Formula 1 has been controversial to say the least.
In 2020 a video posted to his Instagram went viral before being quickly deleted. It showed the Russian groping a woman’s breast before giving the camera a middle finger. His new Haas bosses reportedly sanctioned the youngster after releasing a scathing press release.
“Haas F1 Team does not condone the behaviour of Nikita Mazepin in the video recently posted on his social media,” the statement read.
“Additionally, the very fact the video was posted on social media is also abhorrent to Haas F1 Team.
“The matter is being dealt with internally and no further comment shall be made at this time.”
Mazepin apologised publicly earlier this month. After today’s horror start, he’ll probably be apologising to Haas once again.